The BBC is reporting as I type that Unison is saying that morale among social workers is at an all-time low. Again. I wonder how much lower it can actually sink for this to stop being a news story. I’m still on the recovery trail and feeling a little delicate but is there honestly anything new in this story? We have had months of stories about a lack of social workers.. low social work morale..

Today, the ‘new’ information seems to pertain to a report from the NSPCC which indicates that there has been a rise in calls to its helpline. That social workers are spending up to 80% of their time on paperwork and 20% of their time with users of services.

The only way things are going to change is for those employed in the sector (and I absolutely include myself) to be more active in making the changes happen. We can write, speak and explain what we do and why we do it.

Of course, these reports focus solely on social work with children and families but the only people that can, ultimately, speak up for social workers are social workers who are employed on the front line. We have seen we can neither rely nor trust academics to do this for us as we will be judged or challenged. Politicians are happy to use social work and social workers as political football, pandering to the red-tops when they need to.

Some members of the press might be sympathetic but with their own admission, will never have the same knowledge of the system that those who practice with and alongside it have.

We have been told our training is not good enough, that we are not good enough, that we need lawyers and police officers to ‘fast-track’ into the service, that ‘good’ graduates can easily do our job if they have a one or two year conversion process and we are being attacked at all angles.

I am tired of seeing people rammed into the ground by the work-load. Social workers need to be able to speak for themselves, ourselves – rather than looking for a ‘spokesperson’. We need to push the responsibility upwards as well to our own managers and directors. We don’ feel comfortable in a situation or with a decision – that’s what management is for and is paid to be for.

I never went into this job to be loved or even respected. I don’t really care what the average ‘Daily Mail’ reader thinks of me or my profession. I find it offensive that a politician can describe MPs as ‘glorified social workers’ and mope and groan about how unappreciated the career politician is. They are NOT anything remotely connected with social workers and if they even dare to think they might be, they don’t deserve to have anything to do with public service. I wouldn’t call myself a glorified nurse if I put a plaster on my toe. They shouldn’t call themselves glorified social workers just because they place a call to a housing department on behalf of someone else.If anything they are infinitely less glorious than the majority of social workers I know.

This is as much a call-to-arms to myself as anyone else that might be reading but if we aren’t willing to take as much responsibility for our own morale, development, workload pressure and speak up to our own managers, however senior, nothing will actually change and we will be reliant on these chains of media stories about poor morale.

/rant mode off.

6 thoughts on “Morale

  1. The late Tony Banks MP described his constituency work as being like a high-powered social worker. He found it very tedious.

  2. But MPs never do social work. They do following up casework and making a few telephone calls but that hardly counts as social work. And if he thought he was ‘high-powered’ then that’s frankly insulting to those of us who are trained and qualified.

  3. If social workers concentrated on saving children from physical abuse and possibly death (baby P ?) instead of taking babies aand young children for “risk of emotional abuse” they might be less unpopular.Mothers whose babies are taken following predictions of future risk are pursued through the courts and jailed if they protest publicly when their babies are given for adoption by strangers.If they choose to fight for their babies in countless futile family court sessions they usually lose and the finahcial resources that social services find so inadequate are swallowed up pursuing mothers who love their babies whilst those who batter and abuse them are left free to carry on as usual.
    Here is an article from the Time (not the Mail !) reinforcing these views.
    :-Extract from The Times, Aug 23 2007: “Emotional abuse” has no strict definition in British law. Yet it now accounts for an astounding 21 per cent of all children registered as needing protection, up from 14 per cent in 1997. Last year 6,700 children were put on the child protection register for emotional abuse. compared with only 2,600 for sexual abuse and 5,100 for physical abuse. Both of the latter two categories have been falling steadily. Meanwhile emotional abuse and “neglect” – which replaced the old notion of “grave concern” in 1989 – have been rising. Both are catch-alls. But emotional abuse is especially vague. It covers children who have not been injured, have not complained, and do not come under “emotional neglect

    • I don’t think the argument that the only abuse that warrants removal is physical abuse stands but we’ve been through this before and I know you think differently.

  4. I never said the only abuse that warrants removal is physical though it may well be the only abuse that warrants forced adoption
    It is a question of using finite resources to save lives rather than pursue countless lengthy and costly court cases.
    When resources are limited how can anyone deny that saving lives (battered children) should take priority of any number of other parental defects that very rarely kill anyone ?

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